TAMPA, Fla. — The International BoatBuilders’ Exhibition & Conference’s new partnership with the Marine Equipment Trade Show will attract more international exhibitors and attendees as the event continues to grow here in Tampa, organizers of both events said Tuesday.
“We’re contracted for three years here, and we’re going to maximize the space,” IBEX show director Anne Dunbar told about a dozen journalists at a press conference after the partnership’s announcement Monday.
IBEX will be held at the Tampa Convention Center in 2017 and 2018. “We are sold out,” said Dunbar, speaking of this year’s event. “That is one of our challenges. We are too big for this convention center.”
IBEX and METS Trade leaders will be seeking a larger venue in anticipation of growth.
“If the show is going to continue to grow, it will have to move to another venue,” said NMMA president Thom Dammrich. “The decision will be made in consultation with IBEX exhibitors.”
Dunbar said 90 companies are on a waiting list to be exhibitors at IBEX.
It was announced on Tuesday that RAI Amsterdam, the group that owns and produces the Marine Equipment Trade Show (METS Trade), has bought a 50 percent stake in IBEX, buying out WoodenBoat Publications, publisher of IBEX founder Professional BoatBuilder magazine.
Beginning Friday, RAI will partner with the National Marine Manufacturers Association to produce future IBEX events. This year, two exhibit halls sold out and there were more than 550 exhibiting companies and more than 7,000 attendees. Last year the event was held in Louisville, Ky., where attendance dropped from 2014’s IBEX (which was held at the Tampa Convention Center).
“With the partnership with RAI we are really confident that we can bring back that international component,” said Dunbar. “We can create an entire international area. And that’s pretty much our plan.”
There are 45 international exhibitors this year, said Dunbar. IBEX lost some international exhibitors when the show moved from Miami to Louisville in 2008.
Dunbar and Dammrich were joined by two RAI executives at the press meeting: Ids Boersma, director and executive vice president of RAI Exhibitions, and Rens-Jan van Vliet, the METS product manager, who will also become the IBEX global sales and marketing manager.
“We want to learn from each other and share some synergies,” said Boersma. “As we look into the future, we will be looking at some adjacent segments of the industry to grow [IBEX],” Boersma said. “The growth of METS for the last eight to 10 years has come from adjacent sectors, such as the marina pavilion, the construction materials pavilion and the superyacht pavilion. Those could be possibilities for IBEX, as well, as long as it makes sense for the customers. We can help IBEX become more of an international show — both in terms of exhibitors and attendees.”
Dammrich was confident that IBEX will draw more international exhibitors and attendees by utilizing RAI’s international sales network and contacts in the marine leisure industry globally.
One of the convention center’s biggest assets is its waterfront location (where in-water demos have been set up). But the chances of finding another larger venue on the water are minimal, said Dammrich.
The water space in the Tampa location “was serendipitous,” said Dammrich. “It’s unlikely we will find that at any other locations.”